Adventure Time: 7 Off-The-Beaten-Path Destinations to Visit Now
Sure, Paris is always a good idea, but after the tenth visit, it might be time to branch out. From Greenland to Uganda, these gorgeous off-the-grid locales are beyond worthy of a far-flung trip.
Chelsea is Brooklyn-based travel writer, editor, and photographer. When not home eating her way through NYC, she's gallivanting across the globe, sailing the coast of Croatia or hiking the peaks of Peru. Her superpowers include booking flight deals and sleeping in small plane seats.
For years, Iceland has stolen the spotlight, leaving Greenland’s towering fjords, glacial tundras, and colorful villages blissfully undiscovered. In fact, the country is so remote—80 percent of it is covered with ice caps—that dog sledding and sea kayaking aren’t just fun pastimes, they’re main methods of transportation as there are no roads linking the small coastal settlements. The best way to explore is to sign up for a tour, such as a whale-watching expedition, a helicopter ride over Uummannaq Fjord, or an Arctic wildlife excursion to see reindeer, polar bears, and walruses. Visit between September and April to watch the Northern Lights paint the sky above your two-story, solar-powered cabin at the brand new Ilimanaq Lodge on Disko Bay.
When most travelers make the 20-hour trek to Australia, their sights are usually set on Sydney and Melbourne. But just off the country’s southern coast, Tasmania is a diamond in the rough (literally). A wild geography of arid, windswept land, rolling vineyards, prehistoric eucalyptic forests, and rugged coastline set the tone of this island state, while an emerging contemporary art and craft beer scene add a surprising cosmopolitan twist. Make sure to hike Eaglehawk Neck’s 600,000 waterfront acres or the Bay of Fires—where you may be lucky enough to spot wallabies, kangaroos, or the elusive Tasmanian devil. Then, when hunger strikes, head into the harbor capital of Hobart for your choice of tasting-menu meals. Our favorite: Faro, a just-opened tapas restaurant in the new light installation wing at MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art (which also has its own on-site microbrewery, winery, and boutique hotel).
South America is famous for its boho-chic beach culture, and Uruguay doesn’t disappoint. A glam jetset crowd flocks to the country’s Golden Riviera for its surf scene, elegant vineyards, and design-forward resorts. Start in the south at Fasano Las Piedras, an ultra-luxe modernist retreat in Punta del Este, that has a showstopping open-air restaurant that cantilevers over the countryside. Then, move north to José Ignacio, a bustling beach town that comes alive in November, the start of Uruguay’s summer season. Drop your bags at one of Bahia VIK’s breezy bungalows on Mansa Beach, the calm counterpart to Brava, before heading to the waterfront Parador La Huella restaurant for whole grilled sea bass and homemade sangria.
Sugar soft sand. Wild mangroves. Vibrant coral reefs. The Andamans, a family of 300 inlets in the Bay of Bengal, are about as untouched as islands come. Yet, in February, the Indian archipelago debuted its first ever luxury hotel: the Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Andamans. Hugging the shores of Radhanagar Beach on Havelock Island, the property has 46 manicured acres of coconut groves, orchards, and water lily ponds. Each of the 72 breezy villas are a nod to the indigenous Jarawa tribe’s pitch-roof stilted huts. Days are spent lounging by the 164-foot infinity pool, tucking into fresh-caught seafood at the three restaurants, and kayaking by moonlight with an on-staff naturalist to see bioluminescence shimmering in the crystalline water.
Sandwiched between Spain and France, the tiny 180-square-mile country of Andorra remains one of Europe’s best-kept secrets. Here, the Pyrenees Mountains are a hub for outdoor activity—whether that’s horseback riding through the alpine meadows in the summer or schussing down the slopes at Vallnord come winter and spring. After a day of adventures, soak those sore muscles in the thermal baths at Caldea then refuel with a farm-to-fork feast at one of Andorra’s traditional bordas (stone restaurants).
This Middle Eastern getaway, bordered by Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E., is home to lush, tropical beaches, desert oases, and the rugged Al Hajar peaks. It also features some of the most over-the-top resorts in the region, namely the cliffside Alila Jabal Akhdar as well as the Six Senses Zinghy Bay and its posh waterfront villas. There’s also the standout Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort, which clings to the edge of the rocky Saiq Plateau and has six signature restaurants all with sweeping mountain and canyon views.
Although Rwanda is known for its wildlife (especially the endangered mountain gorillas), neighboring Uganda is the quieter sibling that provides similar experiences for half the permit price. This lush land is rife with rolling tea plantations and rainforests. Stay at the Bwindi Lodge, where the suites feel more like tree houses hovering above the dense Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Here, guides can take you on a four-hour hike (with a porter, of course) to track the majestic mountain gorillas. Or, if you opt for the Mount Gahinga Lodge on the outskirts of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, you can spot golden monkeys and meet the friendly Batwa tribe who live nearby.
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